A woman who donates her eggs helps an intended mother or a same-sex couple to start a family. The donor takes injectable medications, similar to what an IVF patient does, to help increase the number of final matured eggs she will produce in a cycle. Then, will donating eggs affect future fertility?
A woman is born with a lifetime supply of eggs. Once she reaches puberty and starts menstruation, her eggs decrease in quantity. During each cycle, she will grow between 15-20 eggs though only one will mature and the body will reabsorb the rest However, when the donor uses fertility medication all the viable eggs mature.
One of the myths about egg donation to either intended parents or for research is that the process could affect the donor's fertility. However, fertility medications only stimulate the release of eggs that normally would never mature and would otherwise atrophy or decay.
So, can donating eggs affect fertility?
Studies have shown that using fertility medications does not have long-term consequences for fertility. The drugs boost a woman’s hormones while she’s taking them, but they leave her body quickly once she stops.
The question of how egg donation may affect future fertility is important not only for those who donate eggs but also for women considering freezing their eggs to delay childbearing.
No studies have proved a positive correlation between egg donation and infertility. Researchers have noted there is some evidence that the retrieval, which involves puncturing the ovary, may cause the immune system to produce anti-ovary antibodies, and that higher levels of these antibodies have been seen in infertile women. Other studies have suggested that the increase does not affect egg production. Another change the women in the study reported after a donation is menstrual irregularity. It can take a couple of months for their periods to go back to their regular schedules. The researchers did not feel it was a cause for concern and none of these women reported fertility problems.
One limitation of studying the effects of donating eggs is that donors are a select group of women and women with fertility problems are unlikely to be able to participate. Further, while the findings suggest that women's fertility after donating eggs is unaffected in the short-term, long-term studies are needed.
Risks of donating your eggs
As with most medical procedures, donating eggs has some risks, but they are very rare. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a condition when excess fluid from the ovaries flows into the abdominal cavity and causes moderate to severe bloating. If not detected and treated early, OHSS can have complications and affect fertility.
Ovarian Torsion is the ovary twisting on itself and causing a sudden onset of severe pain on one or both sides. Ovarian torsion is rare, occurring less than one percent of the time, but can develop if the donor does not follow medical instructions or if it is not detected early and could result in the loss of the affected ovary.
It is understandable for prospective donors to think about their future motherhood. Infertility has many complex causes. If a donor experiences infertility later in life, there is no proof that egg donation is to blame. It is important to contact an infertility expert at the clinic if there are doubts. If you were wondering if donating eggs affects future infertility, we hope you have now a better understanding of the matter.